Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Then, one day, the king rose from his seat as if to go down to his castle. The people watching him saw him shake and stagger and fall to the ground.

Oliver Postgate has died, and part of my childhood and teenage years has died with him.

That's Oliver Postgate the creator of Bagpuss, most popular British children's TV progtamme of all time. which I remember watching when it first came out when I was a student. Also - which I had forgotten - of Pogles Wood. However, from my own point of view he was more significantly the creator of Noggin The Nog, and greatest of all, the Clangers. I am glad to say that I have managed to instil a love of the Clangers into both of my own children, aided in this by the videos of all the programmes. Roughly contemporary with the Wombles (on television at least) and decades ahead of Wall-E, the Clangers were recyclers of space junk. This episode is a particular favourite of ours: indeed my son reckons the "Granny Clanger doesn't want that!" line at 2:15 or so is one still of the funniest things he's ever seen. And so it is, though it's hard to say why it's so funny. Perhaps it's that Grannies aren't meant to behave like that. Perhaps its her spectacularly good aim. Maybe it's that that kind of humour is more the kind of thing one is used to in The Simpsons, so seems incongruous in the world of Postgate and Firmin which could hardly be further removed from Springfield.

There is a very funny piece on the Clangers site by Oliver Postgate about swearing in Clangers. So here is the episode which begins with Major Clanger saying - or rather whistling - "Oh sod it, the bloody thing's stuck again!"

It is only now that I realise that the little toy Clanger which I was given as a Christmas present some years ago, and which whistles a phrase, is in fact whistling precisely that one. Tee hee.

Meanwhile, this clip from Noggin the Nog is a time machine to take me back to my distant childhood (my fourth birthday was in 1959). Black and white pictures, primitive animation, but wonderful stories and a memorably lovely voice to narrate them (as with Clangers and the rest, it was Postgate himself).

P.S. Oliver Postgate also had a website full of interesting little pieces of social commentary. Have a read of them.

P.P.S. As a teenager I used to enjoy opportnities for clangour/clanger puns. We used to sing a hymn in school which had a line "And the city's crowded clangour cries aloud for sin to cease" which was generally accompanied by whistling sounds. Following a whim, I Googled "clangour" and "cease" to try to find a post title. Instead I found a poem containing this couplet, which seems to make a decent epitaph for Oliver:

Then shall ye die, untroubled by love or sorrow' s savour;
As on this planet ye have lived, your offspring shall succeed:
The death bell cease bewailing, with iron- tongued clangour,
Folk, to whom e' en old fortune, hath shown her tender favour;
None shall have cause for mourning the dead who lived indeed.


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